The never ending abuse of prisoners continues! Will we see officials arrested for the abuses mentioned here?
Excerpts from the Article:
Without delving into medical histories, it would appear that the death of a 38-year-old woman booked in a littering case could – and probably should – have been prevented. Ditto a 35-year-old man arrested on a drunken driving charge and a 48-year-old man locked up on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Yes, people do die every day. And most folks booked into jail are unlikely spokespeople for healthy living, physical fitness or eschewing drugs and alcohol. But no one should die a preventable death on the public’s watch. And unfortunately it looks like this woman, two men and up to six other individuals may have.
It’s the job of jail health officials – and the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque is large enough to have them – to protect those jailed. Yet, a Journal deep dive into deaths at MDC found nine people died over the past year while in custody of the state’s largest jail – eight during a five-month period from August 2020 to January 2021 – and none of COVID-19. For context, before 2020 there were a total of just 10 in-custody deaths at MDC in the previous four years, and zero in 2018.
Albuquerque attorney Peter Cubra says the recent spike in deaths is unprecedented. He should know. The longtime advocate for MDC inmates says he’s been working around the jail since 1984.
Autopsy and incident reports show the causes of death of the nine inmates who died in the past year vary from a heart attack to chronic ethanol abuse. Some may have been unavoidable, but six of the nine deaths appear to have occurred while inmates were detoxing from drugs or alcohol or in medical units, all while under the care of a medical contractor.
And all while taxpayers were shelling out between $105 and $174 per day to house each inmate.
Bernalillo County manager Julie Morgas Baca says the county is taking the deaths very seriously. She noted one death is too many. Good for her. The easy go-to would have been to attribute the deaths as part of booking 1,500 inmates a month, as the jail did in August.
Morgas Baca says she’s working with St. Louis-based Centurion – which the Bernalillo County Commission awarded a four-year, $53 million contract in 2018 to provide a wide array of medical services at MDC – to improve medical operations. MDC spokeswoman Julia Rivera says the jail and Centurion have developed an in-depth corrective action plan to address the spike in deaths. That’s an important step in rebuilding public confidence. They also need to provide some answers.
Because this county jail is no stranger to harsh criticism for the conditions its inmates live in. It’s under a decades-long federal settlement agreement that lays out more than 200 requirements for reform.
Some of the jail deaths have led to discipline – including a probationary corrections officer who was fired for sleeping on the job while an inmate hanged himself and a corrections officer who was put on notice for termination after an inmate died while detoxing from alcohol. Those who neglect their duties must be held accountable. The stakes are too high not to.
The spike in deaths also raises fundamental questions about who is being locked up and why. The 38-year-old woman booked in the littering case kicked over a cup and bowl in front of an officer in April and refused to pick up the cup. The officer issued her a summons for littering, but she failed to show up in court and was arrested. She was found unconscious and not breathing the next day in the jail’s detox unit. A night in lockup should not imperil one’s life.
Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur of the Law Offices of the Public Defender is correct that the legal system has to be more deliberate about who’s being jailed. The Journal has long argued that violent and repeat offenders, not misdemeanants with smart mouths, should be locked up at taxpayer expense. And the disturbing indicators that people are dying while detoxing should have city and county officials asking if jail is really the most appropriate and cost-effective place to take inebriates.
In this life, some deaths are inevitable – but at least on the surface several of these don’t look that way. There are a lot of questions at this point, and the families of inmates who have died in MDC custody, as well as the taxpayers who should have confidence they are funding a safe lockup, deserve the answers.
This article reminds me that the amount of misinformation flying around inside the prison is mind boggling!
But here we see how misinformation about crimes and criminals creeps into the public perception.
Excerpts from the Article:
A cloud of sensationalism, misinformation, and outfight propaganda has always hovered around government pronouncements and media coverage concerning crime and criminal justice. President Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs in America in a speech before the nation’s governors that proclaimed drug use had moved out of the “ghettos, among the deprived” to take root in the upper middle class. Despite the fact that Nixon’s domestic policy adviser John Ehrlichman later admitted that the administration’s effort was more directed at disrupting the communities that drove the anti-war and civil rights movements than addressing the social problem of drug use, the basic structure of American drug policy, and its criminal justice consequences, have been driven by the same Nixonian dynamic for 50 years.
The problem of misinformation surrounding criminal justice issues did not begin with Nixon, nor did it die with him. There was sensationalism, politically motivated propaganda, and antiimmigrant hate speech in the media coverage and public policy responses surrounding the chaos caused by Prohibition. More recently, the spike in violent crime in the first half of 2020 has been linked to early prison releases, including those in the wake of Covid-19, even though there has been no research to show that one phenomenon caused the other.
It is easy to understand how criminal justice policy making can be driven by fear or an emotional response to a particularly sensational event. However, such policy missteps are not inevitable, as demonstrated in a November 2020 policy study published by Emily Mooney and Casey Witte at the nonprofit R Street Institute. Their study not only outlines how misinformation warps decision-making and gives clear examples from recent history, it also offers a path forward to help mitigate the effects of misinformation in an era of fake news and alternative facts.
The misleading and sensationalized statements made by politicians and spread through the media are often intended to create an atmosphere of fear among the public. Aside from the general reservations the average person might have about such intentions, there are also cognitive consequences to the presence of fear in public discourse. Fear response in humans begins in the amygdala, an almond-shaped organ at the base of the brain. Once a fear response is activated, two simultaneous processes begin. The first is the release of hormones like adrenaline, accompanied by an increase in breathing and heart rate. At the same time, blood flow is diverted from the cerebral cortex, an area of the brain that is critical to reasoning, judgment, and advanced cognitive function. In other words, fear makes it harder to think our way to a good decision and favors a quick, intuitive or emotional response. The survival value of this process is unmistakable from an evolutionary perspective, as are the problems the process generates in a situation that requires nuanced thinking.
To make matters worse, decisions made while in the grip of a fear response leave an imprint on the brain, creating a sort of neural shortcut that makes it more likely we will make the same decision when confronted with similar stimuli. This process, called heuristics, is further reinforced each time it is repeated, making a re-evaluation of a particular response more difficult the more frequently it is repeated.
These psychological processes compound, and are compounded by, the way criminal justice issues are treated in the media. Thus when media coverage of crime increases, the public perception of increasing crime grows with it, even when in reality crime rates are dropping. This explains how in 2019 a Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans believed crime rates were increasing, despite the fact that rates of violent and non-violent crime had reached historic lows in that year following a decades-long decline.
It is also impossible to ignore race as a factor in this process. The well-documented impact of the racially charged “Willie Horton” political ad during the 1988 presidential race has long been Exhibit A in the case to prove that fear can make people forget their otherwise-enlightened attitudes about race, and recent depictions of the apocalyptic danger of approaching migrant caravans present equally potent proof. It is undeniable that people of color have disproportionately been at the center of fear-based decisions relating to criminal justice, and their communities have borne the consequences of those decisions.
Fear-inducing rhetoric, seeded with misinformation, has often shifted focus away from real solutions to social problems and even undermined genuine efforts to solve them.
Instead, the rhetoric creates a pattern of false impressions and erroneous conclusions about a particular issue. Several examples of how the criminal justice myths were created are outlined below, as is the real data that refute them.
The first example is the creation of the “juvenile super predator” myth by John Dilulio and William Bennett. In 1995, in editorials and an accompanying book, these men described a bleak American future dominated by “elementary school youngsters who pack guns instead of lunches.” Despite the fact that their predictions were based on almost no data, the term “super predator” made its way into regular media circulation and from there into the public consciousness. It did not matter that academic research conclusively disproved the idea of super predators, nor did it matter that crime rates were already falling by 1995 and would continue to fall over the coming decades. What did matter was the intense media coverage of isolated cases involving horrific violence by juveniles and the politicization of the resulting public outcry to pass laws making it easier than ever before to charge minors as adults. Most of these laws remain on the books, invulnerable to any factual challenge mounted against their fear-based rationale.
Perception of violent crime itself is also an example of how fear can create an ideological matrix that is impervious to fact. Despite the fact that many states have begun to modify “tough on crime” attitudes and policies, these modifications nearly always exclude approaches to people convicted of violent crime. The R Street study found that fear-mongering around violent offenses overstates the potential for recidivism while ignoring the statistically proven reality that violent criminal behavior observably follows the same patterns as non-violent criminal behavior. These observations show that individuals who have been incarcerated for violent crimes have lower recidivism rates than those incarcerated for non-violent offenses. Additionally, violent behavior is proven to decrease dramatically after age 30.
Despite these realities, the fear generated by instances of a violent criminal committing a second violent crime has led to extraordinarily long sentences for many first-time offenders and is the key element driving the growth of geriatric prisoners.
These elderly prisoners are often refused parole, even though their recidivism rate is below three percent and their incarceration cost is exponentially higher than that of the average prisoner.
Another persistent myth inspired by misinformation involves the perception that crack cocaine is more addictive and destructive than powdered cocaine. When crack exploded across the American popular consciousness in the mid-1980s, it was associated with Black communities, street gangs, and violent crime. Powdered cocaine, on the other hand, was seen as a recreational vice among Whites and therefore perceived as less threatening. Unfounded claims about the hyper-addictive nature of crack were paired with a media fascination with cocaine-related gang conflicts to create a near-hysterical fear of crack’s impact.
The resulting wave of mass incarceration and police militarization has had tremendous impact in communities of color. Disproportionate sentencing was mandated for crack possession in the federal system, and despite its outsized effect on Blacks, it has remained in place for over 30 years. The staggering consequences of the policies inspired by the fear of crack cocaine have mostly been accepted despite the fact that there is no data to prove that crack is more addictive than powder, nor is there any clear evidence that the gang violence associated with cocaine is more driven by crack than powder. Instead, public officials and their constituents have been content to allow the fear conjured up by misinformation and media sensationalism to drive them through a cognitively impaired decision-making process. These decisions, like those in the other examples noted above, have proven to be stubbornly resistant to facts and logic, and their consequences are therefore still reverberating across society today.
Understanding the role on misinformation and fear in shaping poor public policy is an important step, but like so many social ills, this problem will not solve itself. The first step in countering misinformation is ensuring the availability of accurate information. The collection of data at every level of the criminal justice system is critical to creating a decision-making process that favors fact over fear. The problem is that regular, comprehensive, and transparent data collection and publication are a rarity across the criminal justice system. This must be addressed at the state and local level, coordinated with federal efforts, and made available to the public.
Even when data are available, there is far too little funding for research and evaluation. Think tanks and universities are equipped to meet the need, but without initiative at the legislative level, policy decisions will continue to lack the high quality, rigorous evaluations that can ferret out flaws and offer better alternatives.
Once data have been collected and analyzed, they must be effectively presented to the public. Most of the platforms that exert influence on public opinion have no interest in crafting positive change.
To meet the effects of sensationalism and entertainment, public information campaigns must be clear and direct presentations of truth. The effect of such programs can vary widely, but if properly done, they provide the surest path to combating misinformation.
Subsequent steps to countering misinformation fall beyond the public sector to land squarely in the lap of the public itself. While the physiological effects of the fear response are difficult to directly counter, citizens can help themselves make better decisions in relation to their support of criminal justice policy by doing three things.
The first is simply paying closer attention to what is being said and who is saying it. It is easier to overcome the effects of fear-mongering when you realize the speaker trying to make you afraid of phasing out cash bail works for an association of bail bondsmen, just as it is easier to question the veracity of a sensational media report when you remember that news outlets do not sell truth, they sell advertising. Learning to recognize ulterior motives and see the truth through the smokescreen neutralizes the worst effects of misinformation.
Secondly, the tendency to focus on sensational events rather than the larger trend obscures any informative view of social reality. Instead of concentrating on a single event, look at the bigger picture when making decisions.
And lastly, recognizing the value of a change in perspective at the social level has to take account of the value of that change at the individual level, specifically in policymakers.
If elected officials are continually criticized for changing their minds when confronted with new data, they will simply stop doing so.
American society is at a critical juncture in the evolution of attitudes toward social inequality, racism, and criminal justice. To come through this difficult time and overcome the fear associated with change and uncertainty, it is essential to get the facts right and make decisions based on those facts.
More insanity; precious resources wasted! We need, should have, and in time will get: sensible immigration laws/policies, and an end to the War on Drugs!
The madness continues with more than 96% of defendants pleading guilty. The good news is that more people are becoming interested in criminal justice, which is great, because the more they learn the more they will see what a train wreck the system has become!
Excerpts from the Article:
Immigration offenses, followed by drug trafficking, were the most common crimes sentenced in federal courts last year, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC).
Reflecting the former administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, immigration violations alone accounted for 41 percent of the caseload, a slight uptick from 38 percent the previous year, the USSC said in its annual report.
The majority of those sentenced were Hispanic and just over 46 percent of the Hispanics were non-U.S. citizens.
The picture of immigration enforcement continues to be murky this year.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University reported Monday that the number of non-citizens arrested by immigration authorities for being in the U.S. without proper visas and booked into civil detention dropped from 5,119 during January 2021 to just 1,970 during February 2021, at the end of President Joe Biden’s first full month in office.
“This was a drop of 62 percent just in a single month,” TRAC said. In contrast, those turned over to ICE for detention following arrests by the Border Patrol or at ports of entry and are thus subject to federal prosecution climbed from 3,024 to 4,696 in February.
While civil cases are adjudicated by immigration courts, which aren’t part of the federal criminal court system, federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges against individuals caught entering the U.S. illegally, under Title 8 of the U.S. Criminal Code.
In other findings reported by the USSC, nearly 88 percent of the 64,565 individuals convicted of felony and Class A misdemeanor offenses in federal court were men—the majority of them appearing on immigration or drug trafficking charges.
The most common age range of offenders was 41-50.
However, the overall figure represented a decrease of 11,973 cases from the previous fiscal year “and reflects the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the courts,” the commission said.
The figures were contained in the USSC’s 2020 Annual Report and Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics which looks at recidivism rates, as well as crime trends, based on federal offender sentencing data.
The researchers noted that 2020 was a year unlike any other, detailing how the COVID-19 pandemic brought on “unique challenges and opportunities for technological advancement” for the criminal justice system.
To conduct their research, the authors looked at information from the federal courts that the commission collected on individuals sentenced between October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, for whom sentencing documents were received as of February 18, 2021.
Although immigration offenses were the most widely prosecuted federal crimes in FY20, researchers focused as well on the opioid crisis, noting that drug trafficking still made up a significant amount of federal crimes. Methamphetamine continued to be the most common narcotic prosecuted in the federal system, and accounted for a steadily growing portion of the drug caseload (up from 31 percent in FY16 and 42 percent in FY19 to 46 percent in FY20).
Moreover, methamphetamine trafficking continued to be the most severely punished federal drug crime with an average sentence of 95 months. Despite the harsh sentences for methamphetamine tracking, average sentences across all other major drug types (crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, and marijuana) decreased.
Some two thirds (67 percent) of drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, up slightly from the previous year (66 percent).
Lastly, beyond looking at the demographics of the individuals sentenced, the Sentencing Commission looked at data regarding their trials, and the actual sentencing.
Of the cases analyzed, 97.8 percent of all defendants accepted a guilty plea, with 99.6 percent of immigration crime defendants accepting the plea. An individual charged and sentenced with kidnapping was the least likely to accept a guilty plea (69.7 percent).
The researchers concluded that 89.1 percent were sentenced to prison only, while a small percentage of the individuals federally sentenced were steered towards prison alternatives such as probation or a fine, depending on the crime.
In concluding their latest report, the Sentencing Commission said its website traffic increased by more than 20 percent for the second year in a row, “demonstrating that interest in the Commission’s work by sentencing courts, Congress, the Executive Branch, and the general public continues to increase.”
The increased interest prompted the USSC to launch an “Interactive Data Analyzer” last June—a tool for Congress, judges, litigants, the press, and the general public to easily and independently analyze sentencing data by state, district or circuit, and refine their inquiry by a specific crime type or time period.
The USSC claims the new tool will create transparency and shine a light on crime and sentencing trends that will help inform future legislation.
The United States Sentencing Commission is a bipartisan, independent agency located in the judicial branch of government which collects, analyzes and distributes a broad array of information on federal sentencing practices.
The full report can be accessed here.
N.J. attorney general orders end to weed arrests, prosecutions now that state has legalized marijuana
Certainly a smart and fair move!
Excerpts from the Article:
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Tuesday announced he’s told law enforcement to end arrests for minor weed crimes and to drop pending cases immediately. That word was sent to law enforcement officials Monday night after Gov. Phil Murphy signed three marijuana reform laws. One of those decriminalizes possession of up to six ounces of marijuana.
Grewal’s order falls in line with the decriminalization law.
It calls for prosecutors to drop all pending cases for possession of marijuana and hashish, selling less than one ounce, having paraphernalia, possessing marijuana in a vehicle, being under the influence its influence or failing to dispose of it.
Police can no longer arrest people for those violations, either, Grewal noted.
Murphy also signed a bill to launch a legal marijuana industry Monday, but it will take months to set up dispensaries that can sell marijuana to the public. For now, there’s no legal way to purchase marijuana. But the decriminalization law removes penalties for possessing marijuana bought on the illegal market.
The third law decriminalizes marijuana and alcohol for those under 21. Instead of arresting or fining those caught with weed and booze, police must issue written warnings. The first goes only to the underage person, the second to a parent if they are under 18 and the third as a referral to community programs on drug education or treatment.
Police issued more than 6,000 charges for minor marijuana possession between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, even though New Jerseyans voted 2:1 to legalize marijuana on Nov. 3. As the legislative process languished, enforcement of marijuana prohibition continued regularly.
Grewal’s guidance also stated that previous convictions for the named marijuana offenses will be vacated.
Driving under the influence of marijuana and dealing it remain illegal, but police can no longer search someone’s car or person upon smelling marijuana. Instead, they must look for signs of impairment.
The Whole Story
More need to open in every state. 45 years of the “war on drugs” has really fucked things up!
With an increased demand for medical marijuana during the COVID-19 pandemic, additional compassion centers are set to open throughout the state in the coming months.
Three companies are anticipated to begin operations in Kent, New Castle and Sussex counties:
• CannaTech Research Inc. – Anticipated to open between April and June in Dover and Georgetown.
• EzyCure LLC – Anticipated to open between April and June in Felton and Middletown
• Valor Craft Cannabis Company – Anticipated to open between July and September in New Castle
“The addition of these vendors increases access points to patients as the program continues to expand,” Delaware Office of Medical Marijuana Paul Hyland said. “The three new growers will bring a greater variety of products and increase the supply.”
Mr. Hyland says the pandemic changed how patients consume medical marijuana products. “Delaware patients want to purchase marijuana in greater amounts and want more varieties than the current supply allows,” he said.
“To satisfy the increased demand for marijuana during the COVID-19 era and to meet the anticipated demand of expansion, OMM needed more production capacity. Opening new vendors was in the plans for several months, however many processes were disrupted during the pandemic.”
Even as three new providers are slated to open, there’s a number of hurdles those facilities will go through before they become operational, and that includes growing the plants to sell, said Zoe Patchell, board chairwoman and president of Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network. And there is quite the amount of demand.
Prior to the pandemic, with the limited options of three providers and just a handful of sites throughout the state, there were a host of problems that plagued the program, she said. A lack of competition has led to increased prices for product (which isn’t covered by insurance, Ms. Patchell noted). Having only three markets in the state led to supply issues and long lines and wait times.
At dispensary sites in Wilmington, Smyrna and Rehoboth Beach, Columbia Care is “seeing dozens of new patients every week that are new to us or new to the program,” said Vice President of Corporate Affairs Adam Goers.
According to the state Medical Marijuana Program Fiscal Year 2020 report, the three most common debilitating medical conditions for qualifying patients the past two years were:
• Severe, debilitating pain.
• Post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Muscle spasms.
“PTSD is a really difficult one that we’re able to help a lot of folks find relief from, as well as measures like chronic pain, which is something that’s just not well treated in with opioids and so we’re heartened to know that patients throughout Delaware are getting access to something that is a natural medicine, and a medicine that in most cases produces a very minimal side-effect profile, compared to the scourge of opioids and the abuse and the resulting just pain that it causes families and communities,” Mr. Goers said
According to the state Medical Marijuana Program database in July 2020, 51% of patients resided in New Castle County, 32% in Sussex County and 17% in Kent County. Of participating physicians, 65% were based in New Castle County, 21% in Sussex County and 14% in Kent County.
According to the annual report, the OMM issued 16,497 new and renewal patient registration cards in Fiscal Year 2020 compared to 12,045 issued in FY19.
The Whole Story:
Lock him up! With video evidence against them, why are so many of these officials allowed to plead to misdemeanors?! Nail them with felony charges.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Cuyahoga County corrections officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges that accuse him of failing to attend to an inmate who died of a drug overdose in 2018 and falsifying records after the inmate’s death.
Martin Devring, 61, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of dereliction of duty and tampering with records in the death of Joseph Arquillo. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office dropped a misdemeanor charge of interfering with civil rights.
As part of his plea agreement, Devring agreed not to try to get his job back or seek back pay. The county fired him three months after Arquillo’s death.
Prosecutors and Devring’s defense attorneys filed sentencing memorandums on Tuesday night in anticipation that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams would sentence Devring immediately following his plea. Collier-Williams said during Wednesday’s hearing, conducted via Zoom, that she would hold an in-person sentencing hearing “due to the seriousness of this case” and set that hearing for March 15.
Devring faces up to nine months in jail but is eligible for probation.
Devring is the second former jail employee to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from Arquillo’s death. Former warden Eric Ivey was sentenced to probation in October 2019 after he pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation into Arquillo’s death Ivey ordered investigators to turn off their body cameras in the moments after Arquillo’s death so as not to create evidence that could assist a civil lawsuit.
Assistant Ohio Attorney Generals Linda Powers and Daniel Kasaris, in a sentencing brief filed Tuesday, asked Collier-Williams to send Devring to jail.
“Devring will never fully understand the impact of his crimes until he sees his own conduct through the eyes of an inmate who must depend on corrections officers like him,” the brief said.
Devring’s defense attorney Roger Synenberg asked for probation in his sentencing memorandum.
Surveillance video previously released to cleveland.com showed Devring sitting at a desk and falsifying logs, saying he had conducted rounds, and reading The Plain Dealer sports page. Arquillo, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war booked into jail on a probation violation charge, lay crumpled on the ground. More than an hour after Arquillo collapsed, Devring walked over and kicked his mat, then turned around and walked back to his desk.
Devring wrote in his logs that he completed rounds every 15 minutes during his shift and that the area was secure while Arquillo lay dying on the floor.
Devring left for his lunch break about 12:50 p.m., and within minutes the corrections officer who replaced him called for emergency help for Arquillo, who was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Arquillo died of a drug overdose and had heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and Valium in his system.
Yost’s office said the investigation into Arquillo’s death uncovered that some jail supervisors told officers to falsify logs to show they completed rounds even when they couldn’t. The brief also notes that some corrections officers refused to do so but that Devring wasn’t one of them.
“For several hours, Devring failed to do his job and repeatedly falsified records to conceal his own laziness and inattention to an obvious inmate crisis,” the brief said.
Arquillo was one of nine inmates who died in county jails from June 2018 to May 2019. The deaths sparked a U.S. Marshals Service investigation that found in November 2018 that the jail was critically understaffed and overpopulated and that corrections officers threatened, beat and deprived inmates of food, water and medical care.
That investigation has led to more than a dozen current and former jail guards, including former jail director Ken Mills who is slated to begin trial in April. Mills faces multiple charges, including dereliction of duty that accuse him of recklessly failing to oversee the jail to the point where it created the dangerous conditions that led to the string of deaths and widespread Constitutional violations.
Arquillo’s son, Joseph Arquillo Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Devring, Ivey, Mills, former Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, County Executive Armond Budish and other jail and county officials. That lawsuit is currently pending in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.
Settlement near in case of pot suspect killed by state dozer – Growing some Weed? We Will Run You Over with a BULLDOZER – KRA
Oh yeah, another costly disaster caused by our looney tune policy called “war on drugs”!
Excerpts from the Article:
The estate of a man who was run over by a bulldozer while being chased by Pennsylvania State Police for illegally growing a handful of pot plants is nearing settlement of its federal wrongful death lawsuit against the state.
Gregory Longenecker, a 51-year-old short-order cook and Grateful Dead fan, had fled into thick brush after being caught growing 10 marijuana plants on public land near Reading. His body was found under the treads of a Pennsylvania Game Commission bulldozer that state police had commandeered in pursuit.
The suit by Longenecker’s family contended that state police and the game commission took “crazy and lethal action” against an unarmed man who posed no threat, then destroyed or withheld evidence to cover it up.
A federal judge overseeing the case has scheduled a settlement conference for next month. The hearing will review “the settlement of the wrongful death … and allocation of settlement proceeds,” according to a Feb. 4 order by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl.
The filing does not include any details about the pending settlement, including the amount to be paid. The state attorney general’s office, which is representing both agencies in court, confirmed Monday that state police and the game commission have reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiff.
The family’s lawyer, Jordan Strokovsky, declined comment on the settlement but said: “We performed a very thorough investigation and the family is pleased with our findings.”
The July 2018 chase developed as Longenecker and his friend tended their pot plants in a small clearing on state game lands. A game commission worker, operating a bulldozer in the area, spotted their car parked in a field where vehicles weren’t allowed and called police.
The friend surrendered, but Longenecker fled, disappearing into the thick vegetation.
State police began a search, and a state police helicopter pilot, hovering overhead, spotted Longenecker in the underbrush. The suit said that state police Cpl. Michael Taylor asked the bulldozer’s operator, Mark Weiss, if he could climb aboard and blaze a trail in Longenecker’s direction. The pair set off on a “machine of death,” the suited said.
A prosecutor who investigated Longenecker’s death concluded that troopers acted reasonably. Authorities have publicly contended that Longenecker was high on methamphetamine, crawled under the back of the bulldozer when it stopped briefly, and was crushed to death when it started moving again and made a left turn.
The lawsuit called that explanation ludicrous, and witness statements cast doubt on the official version of how he got caught under the machine. The chopper pilot said he had Longenecker in view the entire time, noting in his deposition “that it would be impossible for Mr. Longenecker to crawl under the back of the bulldozer before the bulldozer turned left,” the lawsuit said.
The pilot also told authorities that the bulldozer appeared to be “coming in blind” and that he had tried to tell its operator to stop, but his radio wasn’t working, the lawsuit said.
Longenecker’s family asked why state police didn’t simply get a warrant for Longenecker and arrest him later, given they knew his identity and that his crime was relatively minor. An expert in police tactics also questioned why police would use a bulldozer to chase him.
Both sides recently agreed to dismiss Weiss and Taylor from the lawsuit, leaving the state agencies as defendants. Neither agency had any comment Monday.
Open Letter to our Attorney General – Legalize All Drugs – PUBLISHED on 2-9-21 AND on 2-16-21! Oregon just did.
This Letter to the Editor was PUBLISHED today, 2/9/21 on page A 6 of our state’s largest paper, the Wilmington News Journal!
And on page A 4 of The Delaware State News of 2-16-21, the second-largest paper in our state. 🙂
An Open Letter to our Attorney General 2/6/21
My friend, and a friend to anyone interested in justice, Kathy Jennings, is Delaware’s Attorney General, and she is doing a fine job.
However, I have a suggestion: you should vociferously urge an end to America’s disastrous “war on drugs”, and you should urge your fellow Attorneys General to do the same. Why? Because it makes sense.
It will vastly reduce crime, save lives, and save governments tons of money. I recently read another article – huge headline – “How Dover can quell gun violence”. I have read many, often written by well- intentioned relatives of a victim of the senseless tidal wave of violence caused by the storm of our “war on drugs”. All the wrong answers to actually ebb the violence.
They offer valid suggestions: improve the neighborhoods, provide meaningful incentives for a productive life (more jobs), and other cultural changes. They note the availability of the Angel Program, established when I introduced one of our former Chiefs of Police to it several years ago. It offers a safe haven and effective treatment – not arrest – for anyone seeking help to kick drugs. Though successful in other states, it has had a pitiful reception here.
But, as Portugal and other jurisdictions have proven, the real solution is to end the “war on drugs”. Most street violence is drug related; nearly all of it. We are losing our youth to the streets, and so it will be when one can earn more than $1,000 selling drugs on the corner over the weekend, vs working for a month at a fast-food joint.
Oregon recently decriminalized all drugs … a wise first step.
Six year old children slain by a stray bullet. A six year old, Grandma! Americans have been bombarded (brainwashed) with false information about this topic for more than 40 years, so it will take officials like you educating them about the facts to bring about the needed changes. I dare say that taking a very public stance on this issue is the single best way to greatly improve our justice system!
I sent this to Kathy, and her response was, in pertinent part: “I am in favor of legalizing marijuana, which is a critical step in Delaware. “ She doesn’t yet get it about decriminalizing all drugs, but she is a smart lady; in time, she will!
I close with my favorite quote: Alcohol did not create Al Capone; prohibition created Al Capone.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Our Readers’ Views AG Jennings, take a hard look at decriminalizing drugs
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings is doing a fine job. She is my friend — and a friend to anyone interested in justice.
However, I have a suggestion: You should vociferously urge an end to America’s disastrous War on Drugs and you should urge your fellow attorneys general to do the same. Why? Because it makes sense.
It will vastly reduce crime, save lives and save governments tons of money. I recently read an article titled ‘How Dover can quell gun violence.’ I have read many articles like this one — they’re often written by well-intentioned relatives of a victim of the senseless tidal wave of violence caused by the storm of our War on Drugs. That war offers all the wrong answers if we actually want to ebb violence in our cities.
These articles often offer valid suggestions: improve urban neighborhoods, provide meaningful incentives for a productive life (more jobs) and other cultural changes. They sometimes note the availability of the Angel Program, established when I introduced one of our former chiefs of police to it several years ago. It offers a safe haven and effective treatment — not arrest — for anyone seeking help to kick drugs. Though successful in other states, it has had a pitiful reception here. But, as Portugal and other jurisdictions that have decriminalized drugs have proven, the real solution is to end the War on Drugs. Nearly all street violence is drug-related. We are losing our youth to the streets — and that’s because one can earn more than $1,000 selling drugs on the corner over the weekend. It would take working for at least a month at a fast-food joint to earn as much.
Oregon recently decriminalized all drugs. That’s a wise first step. But Americans have been with false information about the drug epidemic
for more than 40 years, so it will take officials like you, Attorney General Jennings, educating them about the facts to bring about the needed changes. I dare say that taking a very public stance on this issue is the single best way to greatly improve our justice system.
I’ve been in touch with the attorney general on these thoughts and, in a reply, was this pertinent sentiment: ‘I am in favor of legalizing marijuana, which is a critical step in Delaware.’ She doesn’t yet get it about decriminalizing all drugs, but she is a smart lady. In time, she will.
I close with my favorite quote: ‘Alcohol did not create Al Capone; Prohibition created Al Capone.’
— Ken Abraham, Dover
Your comments anywhere on the internet reach a handful of people. Yes, many are clever, witty, and on point about the asshole in our White House, but HERE IS A MUCH BETTER IDEA for you to promote ANY cause!
YOU! Do what I do, because I have been doing it for years and it works! Everywhere I go people say: “I read your letters all the time.”
YOU will become famous in your area! Famous for telling the truth, for speaking out on important matters, and THAT is no bullshit!
There are soooo many issues you can write about, you easily could send out a letter each month, THEREBY REACHING MILLIONS OF READERS!
Make A Difference
So many say “why bother, there’s nothing I can do!”
Well, I hope one of those is not you!
For you can be far more influential than you think,
All you need do is share some well-thought-out-ink!
READ this article and do what it says; with easy to follow instructions. Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform – http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
WRITE A LETTER ABOUT WHATEVER YOU ARE POSTING ABOUT!
Good job, Kathleen, but someone – some of these pushers – should go to prison!
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Thursday a $573 million multistate settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co., resolving investigations into its role in helping opioid manufacturers promote their drugs and profiting from the opioid epidemic.
“These are the first damages Delaware’s recovered from the people responsible for the opioid crisis, but they won’t be the last,” said Ms. Jennings. “McKinsey helped Big Pharma profit — and profited itself — off of thousands of Delawareans’ pain and suffering. “We can never bring back the lives that were lost in Big Pharma’s pursuit of profit, but settlements like this give us the resources to get help to those who are still grappling with the devastation that this epidemic has caused across our state.”
This is the first multistate opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to be used to address the epidemic.
The settlement amount exceeds the total revenue that McKinsey collected from its opioid clients. Delaware will receive just more than $2.58 million from the settlement, which will be used to abate the harms caused by the opioid crisis in the First State.
In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online.
McKinsey further agreed to stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and Schedule III narcotics, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year and adopt a firm document-retention plan.
Thursday’s filings describe how, for more than a decade, McKinsey’s work promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers — including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma — contributed to the opioid crisis.
Delaware’s complaint details how McKinsey advised Purdue on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume opioid prescribers, using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more OxyContin to more patients and circumventing pharmacy restrictions to deliver high-dose prescriptions.
When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue.
The opioid epidemic has devastated Delaware over the last 20 years. During this time, drug overdoses claimed thousands of Delawareans’ lives. It’s also driven up costs in health care, child welfare, criminal justice and other programs needed to combat the epidemic.
Thursday’s filing is the latest action Ms. Jennings and the Delaware Department of Justice have taken to combat the opioid epidemic and to hold accountable those who are responsible for creating and fueling the crisis.
The state has also filed complaints against the Sackler family — the billionaires behind Purdue Pharma — and against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.
In the coming weeks, Ms. Jennings will work with partners in Dover to recommend legislation establishing a statewide commission to govern the expenditure of opioid settlement funds.
Once created, the settlement funds will be placed in the care of that commission to direct spending to address Delaware’s opioid crisis.
The attorney general’s opioid enforcement work is a joint effort of the Office of Impact Litigation and the Consumer Protection Unit, both part of DOJ’s Fraud and Consumer Protection Division.
The Whole Story
Opioid Deaths Fall When Cannabis Stores Rise, Analysis Suggests — Can legal marijuana ease the opioid crisis?
This has been known for some time, but it warrants repeating! Though not the front page headlines so much, opioids continue to kill thousands of our kids, sisters, Moms, … every month! Another reason why POT should be legal everywhere.
SEE https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates =
Overdose Death Rates | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Excerpts from the Article:
Access to legal cannabis stores was linked with fewer opioid deaths in the U.S., a new analysis suggested.
The number of marijuana dispensaries in a county was negatively related to log-transformed opioid mortality rate, adjusted for age (β -0.17, 95% CI -0.23 to -0.11), reported Balázs Kovács, PhD, of Yale University School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut, and Greta Hsu, PhD, of University of California Davis Graduate School of Management.
This means that increasing the number of storefront dispensaries from one to two was tied to a 17% reduction in death rates of all opioid types, and an increase from two to three stores was associated with a further 8.5% reduction in mortality, Kovács and Hsu noted.
The relationship was stronger — leading to an estimated 21% drop in mortality — when only deaths from synthetic non-methadone opioids like fentanyl were considered (β -0.21, 95% CI -0.27 to -0.14), they wrote in The BMJ.
“We find this relationship holds for both medical dispensaries, which serve only patients who have a state-approved medical card or doctor’s recommendation, as well as for recreational dispensaries, which sell to adults 21 years and older,” Kovács said.
As business school researchers, Kovács and Hsu first became interested in the increasing prevalence of legal cannabis stores as an organizational issue.
“We tracked evolving cannabis markets across the U.S. from 2014 onwards in an effort to understand how this new category of organizations emerged,” Kovács told MedPage Today. “We realized, however, that our county-level database could also be used to examine whether the availability of legal cannabis in an increasing number of geographic areas has any implications for opioid misuse.”
Their findings add to a mixed evidence base about the relationship between legal marijuana and opioid overdoses. In 2014, an analysis suggested that states with medical cannabis laws experienced slower increases in opioid overdose mortality. However, a subsequent study showed that those findings didn’t hold over a longer period, and that associations between state medical cannabis laws and opioid-related mortality reversed direction and remained positive after accounting for recreational cannabis laws.
Kovács and Hsu based their analysis on data from 812 counties in 23 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allowed legal cannabis dispensaries to operate by the end of 2017. They combined 2014-2018 CDC mortality data with census data and storefront information from Weedmaps, collecting data on dispensaries operating within each county on a monthly basis from 2014 to December 2017. Mortality analysis focused on deaths of people 21 and older.
Eight states and the District of Columbia allowed for recreational storefronts; 15 allowed for medical dispensaries only. An increase from one to two medical dispensaries led to an estimated 15% mortality rate reduction in the study; an increase from one to two recreational dispensaries led to an 11% drop.
Two points about this analysis need to be considered, noted Sameer Imtiaz, PhD, of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research in Toronto, and colleagues, in an accompanying editorial.
First, the mechanism underlying the association is unclear. “In the context of medicinal cannabis legalization, reduced deaths from opioid overdose do not coincide with reduced non-medicinal use of pain relievers or with opioid distribution, defined as the flow of substances from the manufacturers to retail distributors,” they wrote. “The absence of concurrent changes in such opioid-related outcomes questions the premise of substitution.”
Moreover, inferences about individuals cannot be drawn from aggregate-level data in an ecologically designed study like this, the editorialists pointed out. Both harmful and beneficial associations between opioids and cannabis have been seen at the individual level, they observed.
The findings suggest a potential relationship between the increased prevalence of cannabis dispensaries and reduced opioid-related mortality and do not show causality, Kovács emphasized. “While we find a particularly strong association between the prevalence of storefront dispensaries and fentanyl-related opioid deaths, it is not clear whether cannabis use and fentanyl mortality rates are more specifically linked, or if the strength of the association is due to the rise in fentanyl use and mortality rates during the study period,” he said.
Potential harms of cannabis, including the cognitive development of adolescents, medical conditions such as schizophrenia, and public safety risks, should not be ignored, he added.